Chaz Bono, the transgendered son of Sonny Bono and Cher, will be on the new cast of “Dancing with the Stars” and dance with a woman. Chaz, born a female named “Chasity,” completed his gender reassignment at the age of 40 last May. The process took two years.
"It was a process of eliminating a lot of fears that I had in my life about it," Bono told NPR. "Mostly centered around being a public figure ... a lot of fear of rejection, and a lot of fear about what other people would think of me."
"Life was always so much more difficult," Bono said during an interview with Oprah Winfrey regarding his former life as a female. "It also felt like my body was literally betraying me."
Bono said that the testosterone he takes as part of the gender reassignment regimen has had physical and mental effects on him.
"It's given me energy and focus and it felt like it was something missing from my body… it’s kind of made me sharper,” he said. “And my thinking more linear, and I'm probably less talkative now and more solution-oriented.”
"In my core I'm definitely the same person with the same beliefs and set of values,” he added.
Bono will also be starring on the hit ABC show along with Carson Kressley, the openly gay fashion expert who co-hosted, “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.” The inclusion of two openly gay men on ‘Dancing with the Stars’ drew strong praise from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.
“With both gay and transgender contestants represented on this upcoming season, ABC will send viewers a strong message about the diversity within the LGBT community,” said Herndon Graddick, senior of director of programs for GLAAD, in a statement.
“At a time when transgender representation in the media is sorely lacking, Chaz Bono joining the cast is a tremendous step forward for the public to recognize that transgender people are another wonderful part of the fabric of American culture. Appearing on such a high-profile show will allow millions of Americans to get to know him in a whole new light.”
Gender reassignment is still a controversial topic, despite its growing prevalence, with some experts saying it is dangerous, pseudo-science that does not change one's gender.
"Chaz Bono is not a man," wrote Dr. Keith Ablow in an article on FoxNews.com that was taken down from the site one day after publication. "She is a woman who has undergone radical surgeries and is taking male hormones in order to look like a man. That isn’t a political position, it’s a biological reality. Chaz Bono wants to be thought of as male, but she is not male.”
“I think Chaz Bono, who is, in fact, a woman, will not escape, through surgery or manipulation of hormones, suffering that is far more than skin deep," he added.
“Dancing with the Stars” will begin its 13th season on September 19 on ABC.